Creators of their future: A psychosocial programme for the earthquake area in Turkey
Turkish mental health specialists carried out an initial psychological support programme (PSP) assessment mission in November 1999, which showed that a majority of the affected population were suffering from trauma-related symptoms such as sleep disorders, nightmares, irritability, hyper-alertness, anxiety, acting and feeling as if the events were happening again, depressive moods and psychosomatic disorders. In August 2000, a survey of 21,000 people living in Avcilar, the area in Istanbul most affected by the first earthquake, confirmed that many people were still experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as depression, panic attacks, feelings of guilt, incoherent behaviour and excessive devotion to religious beliefs.
Following the November 1999 assessment mission, the International Federation and the Turkish Red Crescent Society (TRCS) agreed to set up and implement a broad community-based PSP, covering earthquake-affected areas in north-western Turkey.
A pilot PSP project was established in Avcilar in April 2000 and a PSP centre was opened there in August 2000. Another centre opened in Izmit in January 2001 and a third, in Düzce, will open in February 2001. These three areas were chosen as either no other psychosocial programmes exist there or the programme complements other national or international projects.